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Lost Oklahoma Treasure: Misplaced Mines, Outlaw Loot & Mule Loads of Gold

Lost Oklahoma Treasure: Misplaced Mines, Outlaw Loot & Mule Loads of Gold

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Lost Oklahoma Treasure: Misplaced Mines, Outlaw Loot & Mule Loads of Gold

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Lançado em:
Mar 22, 2021


Oklahoma keeps its secrets. Adventurers combing the Wichita Mountains for the legendary Lost Cave with an Iron Door can slake their thirst at Cache Creek or Treasure Lake. Following the tradition of French and Spanish explorers, miners and pioneers stashed their valuable discoveries along the Santa Fe Trail and the California Road. Chief Opothleyahola reportedly buried gold coins that could be worth more than $14 million today, while businessman Dr. John J. Hayes never returned from a Confederate refugee camp to reclaim his hidden fortune. From the unrecovered loot of the James Gang to the fabled funds of the Knights of the Golden Circle, W. Craig Gaines tracks tales of treasure across sixty Oklahoma counties.
Lançado em:
Mar 22, 2021

Sobre o autor

W. Craig Gaines is the author of Great Lost Treasure Never Found; Hispanic Lost Treasure of the Eastern United States; Hispanic Treasures of the Western United States; The Confederate Cherokees; John Drew's Regiment of Mounted Rifles; Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks; Civil War Gold and Other Lost Treasure; Civil War Gold and Other Lost Treasure (revised edition); Success in Life: 401 Encouraging Thoughts; Nostradamus' Curse; and other books and articles. Craig has been interested in lost treasure since seeing the film "Treasure Island" when he was very young. He has written about one hundred published lost treasure stories for a variety of treasure-hunting magazines over the years. Craig is an engineer, geologist and writer who has been in many of the areas mentioned in this work. He resides with his wife, Arla, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and still searches for lost treasure.

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Lost Oklahoma Treasure - W. Craig Gaines




Ever since I was a young boy, I have been interested in history and lost treasure. Growing up in Oklahoma, I was fascinated by its diverse history and tales of lost treasure. Oklahoma was part of Native American, Spanish, French, Mexican, Texan and American lands.

I got my first metal detector when I was in junior high school and spent a lot of time digging up metal objects in my yard, other yards, school grounds and eventually the great outdoors of Oklahoma. Over the years, I traveled to all parts of Oklahoma on adventures of discovery, sightseeing and learning. In those years, I’ve researched and accumulated many tales and much historical information from a wide variety of sources.

The basis of these mostly legends were folk stories passed on by word of mouth from generation to generation. They usually have a basis of truth or at least someone’s understanding of the truth. The early stories of lost gold and silver mines and the hiding of Spanish wealth are based mostly on stories developed by early settlers from the legacy of Hernán Cortés’s conquest of Mexico. Evidence that Spanish explorers had been in Oklahoma came from Spanish arms and gear often found by ranchers and farmers.

Many stories came from newspaper accounts over the years. Some accounts are fiction conjured up by a writer for reader amusement, but others are factual. In the 1930s during the Great Depression, the Oklahoma Historical Society and larger Oklahoma newspapers gathered interviews with Civil War survivors and Oklahoma settlers. At that time, lost treasure stories were popular, and many Civil War and post–Civil War lost treasure stories were first put into print then. J. Frank Dobie’s Coronado’s Children was a collection of lost mines and lost treasure in the Southwest, including Oklahoma, that became a popular book.

Almost every family seems to have a lost treasure story associated with it. Sometimes a family member died without telling where he or she hid the family fortune or their egg money. Often a farmer plowing a field would mysteriously find scattered coins uncovered by the plow from some forgotten cache, such as my friend’s family did.

Cherokees and a number of Native Americans learned about gold mining in Georgia during the great gold discoveries there that resulted in the United States taking their lands and removing them to Indian Territory in distant Oklahoma. When gold was discovered in California in 1848, the migration of would-be miners from the East through the Indian Nations on what became known as the California Road caused much excitement among the Cherokees. An internal destructive civil war between members of the Cherokees and other tribes over treaties signed by some tribal members with the United States caused some migration of tribal members to California to escape death threats and maybe to find gold. A few Cherokees were successful in finding gold in California and returned to the Indian Nations with it. Some of this gold still lies buried in Oklahoma. Successful miners returning east sometimes hid their gold during Indian and outlaw attacks.

The Civil War in Oklahoma devastated Indian tribes and nations who had established farms, ranches, schools, churches, mills and towns. A large number of people died during the war. About 28 percent of the Indians who served in the Union military died during the Civil War. Some left behind money that was never found. These Civil War treasure stories are true stories for the most part.

After the Civil War, many ex-soldiers did not adjust well to civilian life as farmers and cowboys. Some became outlaws who used the Indian Nations as a haven to hide out. Jesse James, Frank James and their relatives the Youngers formed the James Gang, which robbed banks, trains and citizens throughout the Midwest and left a lot of tales of buried treasure. The Knights of the Golden Circle were said to have been involved in some of these activities among die-hard ex-Confederates.

After the Civil War, the Indian Nations were reorganized as the United States took lands from the Five Civilized Tribes and gave it to other tribes or kept some lands as unassigned. Later, part of western Oklahoma became Oklahoma Territory and eastern Oklahoma became Indian Territory. Settlers were given homesteads and land rights on what had been Indian land. Railroads were constructed through these lands. Outlaw gangs on horseback carried out a number of robberies. The Dalton Gang, Doolin-Dalton Gang and others made their mark on Oklahoma. It is likely some outlaws left behind caches of loot before they met violent deaths. A number of small caches have been found in recent years. Many finds were based on so-called Jesse James maps that people acquired copies of.

One of my interests has been shipwrecks. There are still a few old shipwrecks in the Arkansas River and Red River in Oklahoma.

Much of this material came from my research for my books and articles. I have organized the treasure stories by county for ease of discussion and so the reader can locate treasure stories by geographic location. Some stories cover several counties, so I have put the story in one county and referenced it in the other county where it may be located. For most of these stories, I have tried to briefly tell the tale based on multiple sources. Steve Wilson’s Oklahoma Treasure and Treasure Tales is one of the best sources for information on a number of these treasures. I have done my best to sort through the many versions of these treasure tales and give my opinion of them. The treasure values given in these stories are what legends have stated, but few lost treasures are actually worth millions of dollars.

I hope you get to visit the areas where these treasure tales take place. Enjoy the people and places in your travels like I have done. You might even find new treasure stories that I don’t have in this book. With a bit of luck, you could become a treasure finder instead of a treasure hunter.

—W. Craig Gaines

Tulsa, Oklahoma





Farm Cache

A farmer hid his family’s money on his farm near the Illinois River not far from Chewey. He died without telling anyone where it was. When I was young, I searched for it briefly with my first metal detector with the help of a friend whose family was from the area. The old homestead was long gone, and the directions were a bit vague about where the house originally was.


Bill Cook’s Lost Loot

See Johnson County.

John C. White Treasure

In the 1920s, rancher John White was rumored to have buried a quart jar full of five-, ten- and twenty-dollar gold coins close to his ranch house near Harmony, east of Atoka. He told W.F. McKown about burying the gold in 1923. White was leasing the ranch from others. White got sick and died in Texas. In 1960, some of John White’s relatives came to the area and looked for their uncle John’s money but did not appear to have found it.


Cavalry Payroll

See Cimarron County.


Roman Nose Treasure

In 1874, a miner returning from Montana was said to have buried gold and silver coins in the Roman Nose State Park area near Eagle City. Another version of this tale was that $500,000 in gold coins was hidden during a Comanche raid in a canyon near the Washita River. The site was said to be about eight miles north of Watonga.

Yeager-Black Gang Treasure

A Yeager-Black Gang treasure was supposed to have been hidden near Eagle City. In 1895, outlaw Dick Yeager (also known as Nathanial Ellis Zip Wyatt) was killed in August and outlaw Isaac Ike Black was killed in in July in different gun fights.

See Major County, Money in a Cave.


Confederate Gold Chest

There is a local tale that in 1864 or 1865, a Confederate gold shipment traveled along the Blue River. As Union troops approached, the Confederates buried the chest of gold near the Red River. A steer’s head was carved on a tree with one horn pointing up and one horn pointing down. The horn pointing down indicated where the chest was. The gold was supposedly hidden about three miles east of Highway 70 and about three miles east of Durant on Lone Oak Road. It was at the bottom of a hill on the edge of the Blue River.

About 1915, a young boy found the mysterious steer’s head carving on the tree. He dug under the tree. After seeing an old Indian who lived nearby watching him, the young boy ran home. He returned to the site with his father. They discovered that the hole had been deepened by someone.

In the 1930s, the Newman brothers from Durant dug at the site with a steam shovel. Near a quicksand area, the steam shovel was said to have brought up an old rusted chest with the letters C.S.A. on it. However, the chest rolled back into the quicksand. Upon resuming digging, they found the quicksand went down ninety feet, which exceeded the depth their steam shovel could dig. The Newman brothers gave up digging for the treasure.

Lost Cannon

Near Fort Washita, several cannons were reportedly buried. Another version of this story was that a cannon was put in a well.

Fort Washita. Oklahoma Historical Society.

Twenty-Seven Mule Loads of Gold

A legend claimed twenty-seven mule loads of gold were hidden in a creek near a large rock during an Indian attack. The site was near the mouth of the Little Wichita.


Fort Cobb Treasure

Two chests full of gold were said to have been buried near Fort Cobb.

Frank James Treasure

Outlaw Frank James reportedly hid $5,000 in gold and silver coins near a barn on the Billy Royce Farm near Anadarko in the Keechi Hills. He may have recovered it. Other counties with James Gang treasure, both lost and found, are Comanche, Grady, Jefferson, Kay, Le Flore, Mayes, Rogers and Tulsa.

See Comanche County, James Gang $2 Million Cache and Other Caches.

Lost Platinum Mine

Prospector A.S. Keown was murdered in 1924 between Anadarko and Fort Cobb with a bullet in his head by an unknown attacker. After he died, it was discovered that he had been selling platinum scrapings to an Oklahoma City jeweler. Some thought the platinum was from a mine that he accessed from his cabin on the George Thomas Ranch about fifteen miles northwest of Meers. This mine was said to be in the Keechi Hills, but he did not own the land. Keown had been working to buy the land or get the mining rights just before he was murdered. The Bat Cave in the area has been mentioned as a possible site with a secret room under water, but this seems unlikely.

Spanish Treasure

A Spanish treasure worth $200,000 in gold coins was rumored to be hidden near Cement.

Fort Cobb. Oklahoma Historical Society.

Frank James. Library of Congress.


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